With offshore wind projects set to increase, is NC ready to capitalize on the opportunity? - New Bern Sun Journal

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Development of additional offshore wind projects is also expected to ramp up, especially as the legislation lifts a Trump-era moratorium on new offshore energy projects off the Southeastern U.
"It opens up a range of new possibilities, especially in developing and capitalizing on the offshore wind industry.
" So with projects already planned off the Outer Banks and south of Bald Head Island in Brunswick County, is North Carolina set to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the expected growth in the offshore wind industry?
Previous coverage:Turning wind into power off the Wilmington coast could be a decade away Wind and whales:For highly endangered North Atlantic right whales, offshore wind brings a lot of unknowns Maybe, officials say.
Roy Cooper has been a champion of offshore wind and renewable energy sources in general, the General Assembly has been slower to jump on the clean energy bandwagon.

With offshore wind projects set to increase, is NC ready to capitalize on the opportunity? - New Bern Sun Journal

Gareth McGrath USA TODAY NETWORK Renewable energy is receiving positive tailwinds from Washington after the passing of President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. While critics, including all Republican members of Congress, think the legislation will do little to curtail runaway inflation or tame the national deficit, there's no doubt the bill opens up new doors to grow the country's clean energy sector thanks to generous tax credits and grant programs. Development of additional offshore wind projects is also expected to ramp up, especially as the legislation lifts a Trump-era moratorium on new offshore energy projects off the Southeastern U.S. coast. "Its impacts cannot be understated," said Robert Bennett, policy analyst with the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, of the new federal legislation. "It opens up a range of new possibilities, especially in developing and capitalizing on the offshore wind industry." So with projects already planned off the Outer Banks and south of Bald Head Island in Brunswick County, is North Carolina set to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the expected growth in the offshore wind industry? Previous coverage:Turning wind into power off the Wilmington coast could be a decade away Wind and whales:For highly endangered North Atlantic right whales, offshore wind brings a lot of unknowns Maybe, officials say. While Gov. Roy Cooper has been a champion of offshore wind and renewable energy sources in general, the General Assembly has been slower to jump on the clean energy bandwagon. Cooper has said he'd like to see 2.8 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind off the North Carolina coast by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040, providing power for roughly 2.3 million homes. Through last year's landmark clean energy bill, the governor, legislators and Duke Energy also have agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. But unlike other states where the inclusion of renewables in reducing the carbon footprint is enshrined in legislation, it's been left up to Duke and the N.C. Utilities Commission to determine the best mix of power generation options to help North Carolina get there in the most reliable and low-cost way. Of the four paths it submitted to the commission to meet the carbon-reduction goals, Duke included between 0.8 GW and 1.6 GW of offshore wind-produced power. Several clean energy and environmental groups have submitted an alternate plan that includes a reliance on more renewable energy sources, including more offshore wind. "There's no doubt this bill breathes new life into offshore wind projects," said Greg Andeck, director of government relations for Audubon North Carolina and a member of the NC TOWERS taskforce set up to advise the state on advancing offshore wind. "But we have a fairly narrow window to get there." Additional N.C., S.C. sites? Two offshore wind projects are already in the works off the N.C. coast. The one furthest along is Kitty Hawk Offshore, an effort from Avangrid Renewables off the Outer Banks. That project could start construction in 2024 and eventually power up to 700,000 homes in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The other project is Wilmington East, divided between Duke Energy and French Total Energies Renewables that could provide enough electricity for more than 500,000 homes. The two projects, however, are roughly only half of the 8 GW of offshore wind power Cooper wants to see by 2040. Wind-energy supporters see vast economic potential in adding new areas off the N.C. coast beyond the current projects, but having North Carolina capitalize on any new wind projects comes with challenges. Roger Shew, a geologist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), said two areas already flagged by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as potential sites are a patch of ocean adjacent to the already approved Kitty Hawk project and another site further out, beyond the Continental Shelf, in deeper waters that would require floating turbines. But that area, although it wouldn't have conflicts with shipping lanes or military aircraft training, includes some rich fishing grounds, making its development "aspirational and will meet some pushback, in my opinion, because of its location and ecological significance to fishermen and others," Shew wrote in an email. He added that might make areas off South Carolina, which are closer to shore like the Wilmington East project, more likely candidates for development. 'Ripe for the taking' With or without new wind farms off its coast, North Carolina could still capitalize from the construction and operation of the planned wind farms and any proposed for South Carolina waters. But the state's two deepwater ports, Wilmington and Morehead City, would need significant investments to meet the wind industry's requirements and compete with the much larger ports in Norfolk, Va., and Charleston, S.C. A proposal this summer by Cooper to include $20 million for the redevelopment of Radio Island, a State Ports-owned industrial parcel across from Morehead City, as a possible site for wind turbine construction and assembly was not included in the updated 2022-23 budget by the General Assembly. Audubon's Andeck said even if the wind companies decide to drop anchor elsewhere, North Carolina has a robust supply chain that already produces components and parts for many sectors of the renewable energy industry, including offshore wind. "It's all about North Carolina leaning into where it has those opportunities," he said. Bennett added that building and promoting that manufacturing supply chain, possibly with state incentives or moves by the General Assembly to commit North Carolina to wind energy goals, could help drive that investment. Landing point:NC Ports proposes Morehead City site as hub for offshore wind industry NC's energy future:How to keep the lights on in the future: Duke, environmentalists jostle over future grid "I think it's an industry that's ripe for the taking," he said, noting the potential the state has to add thousands of new manufacturing jobs as the industry continues to grow. But UNCW's Shew cautioned that offshore wind is still a relatively young industry, at least on this side of the Atlantic, and these projects require a lot of planning, political backing and regulatory review before they can start rising from the ocean surface. The end result, however, carries enormous benefits. "We have to remember we are building from scratch and that initial momentum is slower to generate," Shew said. "But if we keep in mind that energy and climate are two of our primary concerns, then moving forward with our wind and solar energy efforts here in North Carolina and elsewhere are important." Reporter Gareth McGrath can be reached at GMcGrath@Gannett.com or @GarethMcGrathSN on Twitter. This story was produced with financial support from 1Earth Fund and the Prentice Foundation. The USA TODAY Network maintains full editorial control of the work.
The Original Article can be found on New Bern Sun Journal

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